IBJNews

State's high court to weigh hospital bills

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

The Indiana Supreme Court this week will consider whether hospital billing practices should be put on trial. The state’s highest court will hear oral arguments Thursday in a case in which two uninsured patients have sued Indiana University Health for charging them much higher prices than it would have charged someone with insurance.

IU Health won the first round in the 2-year-old fight, when a Marion Superior Court judge dismissed the patients’ lawsuit. But after a state appeals court judge reversed that decision, ordering the case back to the county level, IU Health appealed to the state’s highest court.

If the patients win again, they get the opportunity to take their case to trial. More importantly, the patients’ lawyers—and other trial attorneys around the state—are likely to bring similar cases against hospitals around the state.

The patients in the case—Abby Allen of Avon and Walter Moore of Carmel—were billed by IU Health’s North Hospital in Carmel at “chargemaster” rates—fees that are set primarily as a starting point for contract negotiations with insurance companies, which then wrangle for large discounts.

For years, hospitals raised their chargemaster rates annually in an effort to win higher reimbursement rates from health insurers. But the practice fell hard on uninsured patients until last year because most hospitals gave no more than a 20 percent discount to the uninsured.

Beginning last year, IU Health began offering 40 percent discounts to uninsured patients in order to comply with new rules that were part of the 2010 Patient Protection & Affordable Care Act.

Still, lots of patients either paid much larger bills than their insured peers or, like Allen and Moore, paid nothing but instead had their credit records damaged when the hospital turned over their accounts to collection agencies.

Scott Weathers, the lead attorney for Allen and Moore, has said he wants to turn their case into a class-action against hospitals across Indiana, according to the Associated Press. For that reason, the Indiana Hospital Association has filed a brief with the Indiana Supreme Court asking it to find in IU Health’s favor.
 

ADVERTISEMENT

Post a comment to this story

COMMENTS POLICY
We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
 
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
 
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in IBJ editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
 
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
 
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.
 

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by
ADVERTISEMENT

facebook - twitter on Facebook & Twitter

Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ on Facebook:
Follow on TwitterFollow IBJ's Tweets on these topics:
 
Subscribe to IBJ
  1. Aaron is my fav!

  2. Let's see... $25M construction cost, they get $7.5M back from federal taxpayers, they're exempt from business property tax and use tax so that's about $2.5M PER YEAR they don't have to pay, permitting fees are cut in half for such projects, IPL will give them $4K under an incentive program, and under IPL's VFIT they'll be selling the power to IPL at 20 cents / kwh, nearly triple what a gas plant gets, about $6M / year for the 150-acre combined farms, and all of which is passed on to IPL customers. No jobs will be created either other than an handful of installers for a few weeks. Now here's the fun part...the panels (from CHINA) only cost about $5M on Alibaba, so where's the rest of the $25M going? Are they marking up the price to drive up the federal rebate? Indy Airport Solar Partners II LLC is owned by local firms Johnson-Melloh Solutions and Telemon Corp. They'll gross $6M / year in triple-rate power revenue, get another $12M next year from taxpayers for this new farm, on top of the $12M they got from taxpayers this year for the first farm, and have only laid out about $10-12M in materials plus installation labor for both farms combined, and $500K / year in annual land lease for both farms (est.). Over 15 years, that's over $70M net profit on a $12M investment, all from our wallets. What a boondoggle. It's time to wise up and give Thorium Energy your serious consideration. See http://energyfromthorium.com to learn more.

  3. Markus, I don't think a $2 Billion dollar surplus qualifies as saying we are out of money. Privatization does work. The government should only do what private industry can't or won't. What is proven is that any time the government tries to do something it costs more, comes in late and usually is lower quality.

  4. Some of the licenses that were added during Daniels' administration, such as requiring waiter/waitresses to be licensed to serve alcohol, are simply a way to generate revenue. At $35/server every 3 years, the state is generating millions of dollars on the backs of people who really need/want to work.

  5. I always giggle when I read comments from people complaining that a market is "too saturated" with one thing or another. What does that even mean? If someone is able to open and sustain a new business, whether you think there is room enough for them or not, more power to them. Personally, I love visiting as many of the new local breweries as possible. You do realize that most of these establishments include a dining component and therefore are pretty similar to restaurants, right? When was the last time I heard someone say "You know, I think we have too many locally owned restaurants"? Um, never...

ADVERTISEMENT